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Publishing Industry


2023 Trends in the Korean Publishing Market and 2024 Forecast





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2023 Trends: Growth in self-help, comics, and parenting books


As the COVID-19 pandemic turned endemic in the spring of 2023, travel books saw a resurgence in popularity. The popularity of anime such as Slam Dunk has led to increased sales of manga, and popular YouTubers have joined the publishing market using manga characters. In addition, books by popular writers for grown-up readers, such as physicist Kim Sang-Wook, have been transformed into children’s educational comics.


* K-Book Trends Vol. 42 – Go to the interview of writer Kim Sang-Wook


In addition, despite recording the world’s lowest birth rate, the popularity of books on raising children in Korea has increased. While the market for marriage, family, pregnancy, and childbirth has decreased, the market for parenting and child education has grown, reflecting the changes in Korean society. Notable titles include The Child Who Eventually Succeeds Has a Different Emotional Intelligence (Whale Books) by Kim So-Yeon, a former elementary school teacher in Seattle, US, and Choi Min-Joon’s Son Coaching Encyclopedia (Wisdom House), which addresses the concerns of all parents on how to raise boys.


The Child Who Eventually Succeeds Has a Different Emotional Intelligence

Choi Min-Joon’s Son Coaching Encyclopedia

The Child Who Eventually Succeeds Has a Different Emotional Intelligence and
Choi Min-Joon’s Son Coaching Encyclopedia



The most distinctive trend in the Korean publishing market in 2023 is the unprecedented rise of self-help books. In the midst of rapid social change, younger readers looking for a compass for life, wealth, success, and wisdom have turned their attention to books about “how to live well” by self-made experts and famous YouTubers. According to Korea’s largest online and offline bookstore, Kyobo Bookstore, self-help books accounted for the top 3 bestsellers, with 15 in the top 100. The year-on-year sales growth rate of self-help books at Kyobo Bookstore increased from 18.0% in 2022 to 20.8% in 2023, and the proportion of sales revenue of self-help books continued to increase from 3.8% in 2021, 4.4% in 2022, and 5.4% in 2023. The strength of practical books is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
The top bestseller of 2023 was Sayno Love (Day One). A self-help book by an undisclosed writer who uses the pseudonym “Sayno” instead of his real name, the book teaches young people how to navigate their lives. The straightforward life guide written by the writer, who is said to have accumulated a fortune of 100 billion won, has sold about 800,000 copies since its publication in early March. It was the price of the book as much as the content that made it a hot topic. Despite being more than 700 pages long, it was sold at a list price of 7,200 won, with a 10% discount to 6,480 won on online bookstores. This is about 40% of the average list price of a book in 2022 (17,869 won). In addition, the e-book was distributed for free and downloaded more than 700,000 times. This is because it reflects the rich writer’s opinion that he will not profit from the book. Unlike the profit-averse writer, the publisher and bookstore had the unusual experience of selling a bestseller and not making a profit.
The fiction category, which had five titles in the top 10 bestsellers in 2022, dropped to three in 2023. The City and Its Uncertain Walls, a new novel by Haruki Murakami (村上春樹), who has a loyal audience in Korea, The Prophecy of the Honey Bees by Bernard Werber, which has more fans in Korea than in the writer’s home country of France, and the healing novels The Uncanny Convenience Store (Namu Bench), Marigold Mind Laundry (Book Romance), and A Store that Opens on Rainy Days (Clay House) by Korean writers, were well received. I Do Not Bid Farewell (Munhakdongne) by Han Kang, the first winner of the Medici Prize for Foreign Literature in France, also saw an increase in sales due to the news of the award. In the essay category, books that conveyed warm comfort, such as You Are, After All, Someone That Can Do Anything (Feelm) and May Your Day Be Warm (Book Life), and books with life lessons, such as Don’t Let Your Emotions Become Your Attitude (Highest) were popular. In the field of poetry, Na Tae-Joo continued his status as a national favorite.


SayNo Love

A Store that Opens on Rainy Days

I Do Not Bid Farewell

May Your Day Be Warm

SayNo Love, A Store that Opens on Rainy Days, I Do Not Bid Farewell, and May Your Day Be Warm



In the field of humanities, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and Dopamine Nation, which highlighted the concentration problems of modern people, and books by popular writers such as A Man of Liberal Arts Studies Science by Rhyu Si-Min and Yoo Hyun-Joon’s Humanistic Architecture (Eulyoo Publishing) were steadily popular. In the field of economic management, financial books such as An Introduction to Business Management (Snowfox Books) by Kim Seung-Ho and Jang Ha-Joon’s Edible Economics (Bookie) stood out. In the field of children’s books, educational books with quizzes and riddles were in the spotlight.
In the art field, Beyond The Story (BIGHIT MUSIC), a book commemorating the 10th anniversary of the debut of world stars BTS, and in the health field, books on barefoot walking, which is booming, were popular. In the culinary field, recipe books by influencers, and in the technology/computer field, books on practical skills related to Excel and Python were in high demand. A new publishing trend was the rise of books on retirement, farming, and country life, which were mostly purchased by readers over the age of 60.


Yoo Hyun-Joon’s Humanistic Architecture

An Introduction to Business Management

Jang Ha-Joon’s Edible Economics

Beyond The Story

Yoo Hyun-Joon’s Humanistic Architecture, An Introduction to Business Management, Jang Ha-Joon’s Edible Economics, and Beyond The Story



Growing digital content


In contrast to the stagnation of the paperback publishing market, the Korean e-book, audiobook, webnovel, and webtoon market has been growing every year. While it is difficult to provide accurate yearly market size statistics, it is clear that digital content is on the rise. According to a report titled “Survey on the Current Status of the Webnovel Industry in 2022,” published by the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA) in 2023, the webnovel market was estimated to be worth 1.39 trillion won in 2022. Large portal sites Naver and Kakao are the leading players, each accounting for about 40% of the market, followed by e-book specialist Ridi with 10%. The number of users of mobile apps for webnovel services was about 5.87 million. Readers read series or completed works in the romance, fantasy, and mystery genres daily or three to four times a week, and there were many habitual readers who read an average of 30 minutes to an hour at night.
Webtoons, an original Korean genre that gained prominence in the global market before webnovels, are expected to reach 1.56 trillion won (2021 market size reported in 2023) and continue to grow. According to the “2023 Global Comic Book App Market Insights” released by mobile data analytics firm Sensor Tower, the top webtoon platform in terms of revenue is Piccoma, a subsidiary of Kakao, which operates in Japan and France (600 million dollars), followed by Line Manga, which is operated by Naver in Japan (400 million dollars). The top four global webtoon sites are apps from Korean-related companies, including Naver Webtoon (200 million dollars) and Kakao Page (100 million dollars).


Top 10 Worldwide Comic Book App Revenue Rankings from January to October 2023


Top 10 Worldwide Comic Book App Revenue Rankings from January to October 2023

Source: Sensor Tower Inc. (December 2023), “2023 Global Comic Book App Market Insights”



Meanwhile, according to Statistics Korea’s “Online Shopping Trends Survey,” the year-on-year sales decline of online bookstores has been ongoing since the third quarter of 2022. Despite the fact that the non-face-to-face economy and online shopping, which grew significantly in 2020 and 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic, are showing a downward trend in the publishing market, there are concerns about the shrinkage of the paperback publishing market given the large share of online bookstores in the Korean publishing market.



(KRW 1 Million)

2023년 1월부터 10월까지 전 세계 만화 앱 수익 순위 Top 10

Source: Statistics Korea (December 2023), Online Shopping Trends Survey data



2024 Forecast: Reading horizons expand in the Year of Children’s Books


Korean publishing market’s core sectors, such as study guides and books for the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), self-help books and practical books on finance and language, mind-healing novels and comforting essays for weary modern people, and educational books that serve as companions for raising children, as well as the fandom phenomenon associated with famous writers and influencers, are likely to continue unchanged in the new year.
It is also expected to continue to publish books on various social issues, such as the 100th anniversary of the birth of former President Kim Dae-Jung in January, political books related to the parliamentary elections in April, and sports books related to the Paris Olympics in July and August, as well as books on the environment, gender, and nurturing. Above all, in 2023, generative artificial intelligence, such as Chat GPT, which has been a major concern not only in society but also in the publishing field, is expected to undergo a second round with more advanced and segmented publications.
This year marks the first year of the Korean government’s (Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism) Fourth Basic Plan for the Promotion of Reading Culture (2024-2028). Last year, Statistics Korea’s social survey showed signs of a rebound, with the adult reading rates rising by 2.9 percentage points to 48.5% in 10 years. We hope that the creation of a reading-friendly social environment will create a positive atmosphere for the publishing industry. In addition, private organizations related to books have designated 2024 as the “Year of Children’s Books” and are conducting various activities. It is expected to contribute to expanding the possibilities and hopes of children’s books.



Written by Baek Won-Keun (President of the Books & Society Research Institute)



#2024 Forecast#Self-help#Digital content#Year of Children’s Books
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